Belarusian blogger signs up for election, turns to VK for help

Jul 20, 2012

Ihar Slucak, the blogger who inspired the “State in Belarusian” campaign, is planning to stand for the Belarusian parliamentary elections in September 2012. His team, as well as the district he would run in, has been picked through VKontakte, the the biggest Russian-speaking social network ,which claims to host at least 4,000,000 accounts from Belarus.
Slucak gathered his team through a community, which lists more than 3,000 subscribers. He claims that he received more than 30 applications from all over the country and chose, “the best 14 persons of different backgrounds.” The community’s users also picked the district in which he should run: this will be district number 34 in Homiel, the second biggest city in the country.

The legitimacy of Belarus’s Parliament has continuously been called into question, beginning with Lukashenka’s 1996 referendum that transformed theSupreme Sovietl, which was the name of the Parliament in the early years of restored Belarusian sovereignty) into a National Assembly with little legislative power. In the last term, MPs have initiated only one bill; all other bills were submitted from the presidential administration for approval and were rarely disputed or rejected.

Parliament’s legitimacy crisis became even more acute after the bloody 19 December 2012 elections. This time however, the opposition parties and movements, which had previously boycotted parliamentary elections, have changed their minds as this election gets closer. Most will  run candidates,  and they explain this change in position as the chance to legally reach out to the people.

Slucak’s “State in Belarusian” campaign aims at changing administrative language at state institutions from Russian to Belarusian as well as expanding the use of Belarusian in other domains of public life. Ihar is currently communicating with football clubs and commentators trying to persuade them to switch from Russian to Belarusian in game commentary and official communication.

Front-page image: Screenshot of Sluka’s VK community

About the Author

Alaksiej Lavoncyk

Alaksiej Lavonczyk is a media activist and social media expert from Minsk, Belarus. He had been in charge of the training projects for the NGOs and media on building their capacity in online campaigning and end-user security. Alaksiej had also acted as a consulting and technical expert for NGOs and media in Belarus and four countries of Central Asia (except Turkmenistan) on upgrading media/NGO websites to meet contemporary standards, and on their promotion online. Alaksiej is also running an online training centre for the Central Asians preparing the specialists in SMO promotion.
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